Ballyhar & Killarney

The bells were ringing Sunday morning as we attended Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney. Amazingly, this massive Gothic Revival church was built from 1842–1855, a period covering the Great Famine.

St. Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney, County Kerry

Inside, the soaring stonework and towering stained-glass windows take your eye up to the heavens (as intended). The priest, in his soft Irish accent, joked about keeping it short this morning so the parishioners could be home in time for the Dublin-Kerry match (an All-Ireland senior football semi-final).

Don’t ask me to describe what’s happening in Gaelic football. It’s evidently a mix of rugby, soccer and some American football elements. It’s also very popular. People all around us sported the yellow and green jerseys of their Kerry boys (even at Mass).

Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney

I was able to catch a quick video during the service without too much notice:

After church, we decided to hit the Super-Value and pick up a few items for a picnic at Ross Castle along the shores of Lough Leane. With such a fine day, plenty of Irish joined us to soak up the sun on Sunday afternoon.

Ross Castle on the shores of Lough Leane near Killarney

Venturing further south into Killarney National Park, we came across the ruins of another abbey. This was Muckross, a Franciscan friary built in the 1400s. As with most abbeys, it experienced a violent past with frequent raids and eventual persecution under Cromwellian forces. It’s quiet now.

Ruins of Muckross Abbey in Killarney National Park

A spiraling yew tree stood guard in the center of the quiet vaulted cloister. It’s an ancient witness to this ground. Rather than being planted by the monks here, the abbey is thought to have been built around the mature tree. Read more about yew trees and ecclesiastical sites here. It’s not hard to envision the monks walking around the tree among these ruins.

The stout Yew tree growing in the center of the cloister at Muckross Abbey

After returning home, we thought it would be interesting to show you a few details from the renovated farmhouse. The thick walls are typical plaster over stone with wood and tile flooring.

The outlets have tiny switches so you can choose which to power. The washing machine controls are a bit confusing but we’ve successfully done a load or two (convenient to pack light and wash along the way). Lastly, what a stove!

Inside our renovated farmhouse at Ballyhar.

I hiked a bit around the area in Ballyhar. It’s heavy on the greenery and cows. The tiny road leading up to the farmhouse has no place to get over or turn around. We’re not sure what to do if we meet someone coming the other way. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened yet.

Scenes from a hike around our farmhouse in Ballyhar.

After a long day, we headed back down into Killarney to spend the evening at Murphy’s pub with some live music and a pint. You go up to the bar and order your drinks yourself. You also don’t tip the barman, it would be an insult. They’re professionals and make a good wage.

Altogether, this was a pleasant way to end a quiet Sunday in County Kerry.

Murphy’s pub in Killarney. Evidently a favorite of Kenny Rogers (?!).

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